Maritime NZ people

Read about some of the people who are doing great things at Maritime NZ, including those working behind the scenes.

Louise Dooley

Chief Advisor Regulatory Policy

Louise Dooley

Louise Dooley came on board around two weeks before the RENA incident” back in 2011.

Now our Chief Advisor of Regulatory Policy, Louise is currently working on a regulatory stewardship strategy and a range of proposed amendments to the Maritime Transport Act, among other things.

“My focus, and I hope my enduring legacy, is on improving the maritime regulatory system so that it’s best able to deliver on its purpose,” she says

Here’s Louise on what she enjoys most about her role, the challenges of juggling time-critical projects, her extensive background in central government regulatory policy… and her sheep, Heidi and Honey.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I mostly work from home, and my day always starts with a slow walk across my land with my dog Nessa da Bear, an inspection of my trees, and letting out my beautiful black nose Valais sheep, Heidi and Honey.

I start early and I try to get in a couple of hours at least on ‘big’ papers or projects. I’m currently working on the initial draft of a regulatory stewardship strategy for Maritime NZ and have, until recently, been involved in the organisation’s management of maritime levies issues. I’m preparing short papers on a range of proposed amendments to the Maritime Transport Act, which will hopefully be advanced by the Ministry of Transport under a Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill in 2021. On an average day I receive one or two requests for advice on regulatory policy issues or review of policy papers, and I attend to those as quickly as possible.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy the autonomy and the ‘space’ I’m given to think in depth and detail. I really enjoy writing and research, and those things feature in my work. I also like the mix of planned and ad hoc work as that means I can ‘chip away’ at some of my bigger projects but also take a break from those and dive deep into discrete time sensitive pieces of work.

What do you find most challenging?
I like having lots on, but occasionally I’m in the position of juggling multiple time critical matters, and that can be mentally and physically challenging.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I don’t see myself as working ‘for’ the maritime industry, but in my work I’m certainly aware of how important it is for regulated parties to be part of regulatory systems that are efficient, effective, proportionate, and responsive.

As a public servant, I ultimately work for the public (all New Zealanders using, working on, and playing on our coasts and waterways). My focus, and I hope my enduring legacy, is on improving the maritime regulatory system so that it’s best able to deliver on its purpose.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
After my work on the last Maritime NZ Funding Review I received a letter signed by all members of the Executive Team thanking me for my contribution. At the time I was doing the work (it was very hard work over many months) and saw myself as just doing my job – so it was an immense compliment and pleasant surprise to have my work acknowledged in this way.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
The biggest thing – which is not so much an achievement, but a ‘getting to’ – is self-awareness and confidence in myself.

What are the values that drive you?
The Maritime NZ organisational values of integrity, respect and commitment very much resonate with me professionally and personally. Integrity – which for me is about being honest and being trustworthy – is probably my strongest driver and is very important to me doing my best work for Maritime NZ / the public.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I write poetry (never in iambic pentameter) and I read poetry or short stories pretty much every day. I walk my dogs a lot and enjoy spending time with my sheep. We have ten acres and there’s always lots of ‘land’ work needed – which I really enjoy.

My partner and I are also renovating a very big villa, as well as putting the finishing touches on the 130-year-old cottage we live in.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I’m a career public servant and have worked in central government regulatory policy roles for 29 years, in such areas as food safety, the regulation of retirement villages, enduring powers of attorney, social security, social welfare, and lotteries and gaming. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and human geography, and a Master’s degree in the epistemology of geography. I’ve also been progressing a law degree very very slowly. I intended to take a different sort of career path but am very happy with the one I took.

Heather Allen

Senior Advisor Certification and Registrar of Ships

Heather Allen

The people in the maritime industry are passionate about what they do,” says Senior Advisor Certification and Registrar of Ships, Heather Allen. "I haven’t come across anyone who isn’t helpful and willing to share their knowledge.”

After more than 15 years as a member of the Maritime NZ crew, Heather Allen has ‘come across’ more than a few people in the industry. She’s the person you talk to when you need to register your vessel for an international voyage, or to get a vessel certificate, or help solving a related issue – to name just a few things...

Here’s Heather on why, for her, there’s no such thing as a “typical” day, and what made her role in the reflagging of the Foreign Charter Fishing Vessels as New Zealand ships her proudest moment at Maritime NZ.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I’m an early starter so I’m in the office by 7.30am. Quite a few people know this, so the phone usually starts to ring not long after!

I don’t think there is a “typical” day. I try to plan my days so I know what I’m doing, but one phone call or email can throw this completely out the window. I’m mostly involved in ship registration and the certification of vessels and operators, so in any one day I could be advising someone on how to get a particular certificate or trying to find a solution to an issue, processing applications and contributing to various projects. One of my main roles is to support the certification team, so I could also be training someone or helping with a difficult question.

My current focuses are the America’s Cup project – we’re looking at how we’ll manage the certification of vessels operating during the event, the amendment to Marine Protection Rule 102, and the insurance requirements for offshore installations. I’m also reviewing all our ship registration forms, guidance documents and procedures, which haven’t seen much change in a very long time.

At the same time, I’m completing a course on International Maritime Codes and Conventions, which has given me a better understanding of the basis for a lot of New Zealand’s Maritime Rules.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The huge variety of things we’re involved in, the fact that I’m always learning, and the people I come into contact with – my certification team, my wider Maritime NZ colleagues, owners, operators, surveyors…..the list goes on!

What do you find most challenging?
The huge variety of things we’re involved in. While it’s one of the things I enjoy the most, it’s also the most challenging. I may get a phone call from a vessel owner about one issue which then leads to something else and I need to make sure we cover everything. For example, I recently dealt with a ship coming from overseas which required 12 different certificates. We needed to be able to tell the ship’s owner what all the requirements were early on in the process – it would’ve been a disaster to get to the departure date and realise we’d overlooked something!

My husband tells me that I don’t switch off, and he hates it when we go away anywhere where there are boats – I’m always looking to see if I recognise any I’ve dealt with over the years!

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I find the maritime industry really interesting as it’s so vast and, because of this, there’s always the opportunity to learn something new. Also, the people in the industry are passionate about what they do and I haven’t come across anyone who isn’t helpful and willing to share their knowledge.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
The reflagging of the Foreign Charter Fishing Vessels as New Zealand ships. It was quite a stressful time, as a large number of vessels needed to be registered before a certain date in order to continue fishing in New Zealand. We had to do quite a bit of juggling to work around the different issues, such as survey requirements and the timing of when the ships were due to be deleted from overseas registries. But we did it, and all the vessels were registered before the deadline of 1 May 2016.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
I really struggle to name my biggest achievement. I’ve achieved lots of things over the years –completing courses, learning new skills, running successful events for groups I belong to, and having great friends and family. These have helped make me the person I am today, so I guess it’s the small things in life that matter!

What are the values that drive you?
I believe in always doing the best job possible and keeping the promises I make.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
My husband and I have a classic American car so we often travel around the country to different car events. We also spend a lot of time at Riversdale Beach in the Wairarapa, where we have a bach – weekends there often involve golf, fishing or just taking our dogs for walks on the beach. This is where I relax, so I get a bit grumpy if I don’t get over there as often as I’d like!

Please tell us a bit about your background…
My work background was definitely non-maritime – I spent 11 years working in the trustee industry, mostly drafting wills and administering estates and trusts.

Maritime-wise, I grew up in Petone so we were always in, or on, the water. My brother was involved in sea cadets so I used to tag along with him, and a family friend had a Noelex 25 so I sailed with him for quite a few years.

Chiquita Holden

Victim Support Officer

Chiquita Holden

“Each victim has unique circumstances, so responding to their own situation is important,” says Maritime NZ’s Victim Support Officer, Chiquita Holden.

Having worked with victims for over 15 years, Chiquita plays an important role in our legal team, providing support to people affected by maritime incidents. The job is a perfect fit for Chiquita, who also grew up in a seaside community where, she says, she was lucky to have the ocean at her backdoor.

We talked to Chiquita about her desire to make a difference to those who have been affected by maritime incidents, as well as to see a greater level of support for the victims Maritime NZ and other regulators work with.

Please tell us a bit about your backgroud...
I grew up in a seaside community where we spent a lot of time either in or on the water. Whenever a boat came through the harbour, we’d get static interference on our old TV, which was our signal to look out the window and see what kind of ship was coming in. Boating was part of our programme at primary school too, so both at home and school I was lucky to have the ocean at my backdoor.

My work background is focused on supporting victims – I’ve spent around 15 years supporting people affected by a range of different incidents, with a particular interest in improving the support to families affected by homicide.

I’ve also worked as a casual crew member on a charter boat and absolutely loved the experience. When I saw the role advertised at Maritime NZ, I couldn’t believe there was a role that combined all the things I love.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
Each victim has unique circumstances, so responding to their own situation is important. A typical day will see me talking to different victims and supporting them – either by providing information, assessing their needs, or referring them to other agencies that can help. It really depends on what has happened, who I’m talking to, and what stage they’re at in their journey.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The sense of purpose – if I can make something easier for others, I feel like I’ve achieved something. I’d really like to make a difference. While you can’t change what’s happened, you can help people in a meaningful way to make things a little easier. Some victims might need to go to court, which, on top of everything else, can be quite daunting. Being able to help victims understand this process or support them directly at court can help them feel less overwhelmed.

What do you find most challenging?
It’s quite a challenge to make sure the rights and needs of victims are recognised. Unlike for police-reported crime, where there’s a lot of support and recognition for victims, the people we support don’t receive the same level of attention. This can create barriers. I’d like to see more recognition and a deeper understanding of the victims Maritime NZ and other regulators work with.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I think I’m really lucky to work for Maritime NZ. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the things I love combined in a job advertisement – there’s actually a job like this! It’s also a great privilege to work for an organisation that has an understanding of, and is committed to, supporting victims.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
It’s hard to write about being proud – usually I’m involved because something bad has happened and I can’t do anything to change that. It’s probably the small things – like seeing someone progress on their journey. I can’t really take credit for that as it’s more down to them than anything I do. I know I can’t change things, so I aim to support people to make their experience easier in some way.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
I’ve recently been training for a 100km event, which unfortunately didn’t go ahead due to COVID-19. This would have been my biggest physical achievement and, while I didn’t get to complete it, during my training I realised something important: In the past I’d set myself goals and completed them – half marathons, 10km runs, and an ultra-walk – but what I’d actually done was set limits. I could really only get as far as the ‘goal’ and that was it. Changing my thinking from set limits to bigger goals meant that any 5-10km walk became a routine walk, not an event or challenge. I’m looking forward to completing the 100km next year and setting some goals that extend beyond my limits.

What are the values that drive you?
Integrity – being honest, accountable, respectful, and making sure my actions are guided by doing what’s right.

Compassion – when you strip everything back, caring for others matters most.

Victims’ Rights – I’m committed to working with victims and helping to make a difference.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I really enjoy getting outside and walking local tracks, spending time at the beach, and being with family. I love getting out on the paddle board or kayak during the summer months.

Anjini Ram

Assistant Accountant

Anjini Ram

Anjini Ram has been working hard behind the scenes at Maritime NZ for 14 years, moving her way up through the ranks of our finance team.

She attributes her loyalty to Maritime NZ to our “friendly working environment”, and to supporting “such a complex and interesting industry”.

Anjini chatted to us about how she always wanted to work in finance and about how proud she is to be part of such a hard working team. She also mentions how growing up near the sea in Fiji makes a career with Maritime NZ such a natural fit.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
My days vary a lot. I look after accounts, making sure that the various accounting and tax regulations are followed and suppliers are paid on time. I also provide support to managers and staff who need help resolving financial issues.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
It’s very rewarding! I really enjoy the variety of work, learning new things, being able to use modern technology to solve problems, and having a deep understanding of how the business works. I also like working with my team and with people across the organisation. It’s a really friendly working environment and one that’s always allowed me to exercise my skills and knowledge. Since I started 14 years ago, my career has continued to develop.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
Although I don’t work directly with people in the maritime sector – I provide support in my role at Maritime NZ – I still find it such a complex and interesting industry.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I’m proud to be part of the successful Financial Operations Team. We’re team of seven people, each of us committed to working together to achieve a shared goal.

What are the values that drive you?
Respect, commitment and kindness.

Please tell us a bit about your background:
I was born and brought up in Fiji, where I lived close to the sea and always enjoyed swimming and picnicking by the beach. I’d always wanted to work in finance, so studying for a Diploma in Business Studies and Accounting was an easy choice. I then began my career with the Pacific Island Forum as Secretariat Purchasing Officer, overseeing the buying of products, evaluating vendors, negotiating contracts and preparing reports on orders and costs.

After marrying a Kiwi, I moved to Wellington in 2006, and began my extensive career with Maritime NZ as a Temporary Administrator. I later joined the Finance team as Finance Officer Accounts Payable, a role I’m still loving today.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I like cooking, watching Bollywood series and spending time with family and friends.

Shailesh Sinha

Senior Advisor (Human Factors), Maritime Systems Assurance

Shailesh Sinha

You may have already met Shailesh Sinha – either in person or over the phone.

A key part of his role is providing expert advice on things like seafarer certification, maritime school course approvals, inspections, and exemption applications, while also clarifying maritime rules and international conventions for stakeholders. Shailesh has been with us since 2014, and has been a help to many in the industry since then.

As well as his biggest achievements at Maritime NZ – which include representing New Zealand at International Maritime Organization meetings – Shailesh talked to us about what excites him most about working with the maritime industry, and what he’s focused on at the moment. He also outlines the path that led him to where he is today...

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The amazing thing about my role is that it varies from one task to another, so it requires a range of leadership skills. I especially enjoy opportunities where I can use my expertise to educate and influence people, while developing and maintaining strong relationships.

Before the COVID-19 lockdown, my role also involved attending forums and International Maritime Organization (IMO) meetings, which I enjoy.

What do you find most challenging?
Giving consistent, robust and pragmatic technical advice that’s easy for stakeholders to understand can be quite challenging. It requires a lot of preparation, including making sure we comply with maritime laws, policies, international regulations etc. I also need to think from a policy maker’s perspective to make sure my advice is feasible and operational.

Another challenge is giving advice in areas that have no set precedents. This requires innovative solutions.

What do you like best about working with the maritime industry?
The maritime sector is a very dynamic, competitive and complex global industry, which is currently going through tremendous technological developments. As a mariner, I find this fascinating and I enjoy the challenge of keeping up with developments.

Also, this industry involves collaborating with people from all around the globe – and I really enjoy working in such a diverse environment.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I’m a morning person and prefer to start my day with at least an hour of chanting. It helps me to stay positive, calm and focused.

Every day is very different, and that’s what I love about my role. I spend most of my time providing advice about things like seafarer certification, maritime school course approvals, inspections, examiners, exemption applications etc. At the same time, I help stakeholders by clarifying maritime rules and international conventions, both remotely and face-to-face.

I also write memos to the Maritime NZ Executive Team and papers for the IMO. And recently I’ve been focusing on reviewing and optimising Maritime NZ’s processes and procedures.

I’m also currently leading a review of the maritime qualifications that lead to National and STCW (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) and STCW-F (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel) certificates. We review qualifications periodically to ensure they remain relevant, fit for purpose and continue to meet the needs of the learners, industry and stakeholders. This project involves working with organisations such as Competenz, which develops skills for industry, as well as the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and training providers.

In the midst of all this, I keep myself updated with international trends and relevant legislative changes.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I value the simple things in life and any little achievement is a proud moment for me.

My proudest moment is representing New Zealand in the international arena at various IMO meetings as a delegate or head of a delegation.

I also feel proud when I see Maritime NZ’s people growing, both personally and professionally, and when I provide solutions to emerging issues.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
Being part of a supportive family, obtaining a Master’s of Mechanical Engineering with merit, and being a citizen of this beautiful country are my biggest personal achievements.

Professionally, my experiences working in both government and private sectors, representing New Zealand at the IMO and other international meetings, being New Zealand’s IMO Auditor and a STCW Evaluator, are some of my biggest achievements.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I was born and brought up in India. After graduating as a Mechanical Engineer, a Singapore-based shipping company sponsored me to study marine engineering at the Singapore Maritime Academy. I then worked as a marine engineer, managing the operations and maintenance of onboard container ships and tankers plying their trade worldwide.

I then changed my career focus to the Singapore oil and gas industry, working as a mechanical engineer, managing design and engineering projects.

My next move – to Auckland to pursue a Master’s of Mechanical Engineering – facilitated a transition from an operations role to the management side of engineering. After getting my master’s, I worked for a design and manufacturing company based in Hamilton before joining Maritime NZ as a technical advisor.

What are the values that drive you?
Patience, perseverance, commitment, respect and kindness.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I’m an active member of Soka Gakkai International NZ, a Buddhist non-profitable organisation, where I meet people for group chanting and discussion sessions. Other than that, I’m very passionate about travelling and learning about new cultures, food and people.

I also enjoy reading management and leadership articles and books to keep myself motivated.

Mike McMurtry

Senior Oil Spill Response Planning Advisor

Mike McMurtry

“We’re all about environmental protection,” Senior Oil Spill Response Planning Advisor, Mike McMurtry, says of his team – the Marine Pollution Response Service.

When he’s not responding to oil spills, Mike is involved in everything from Pacific Island risk assessments to reviewing offshore industry contingency plans. “I want to leave ‘a better New Zealand’ as our legacy,” he says.

Mike chatted to us about the many things he turned his hand to before joining us three years ago, the joys and challenges of his role, as well as his proudest moment at Maritime NZ . He also mentions how much he loves the water…

Please tell us a bit about your background…

Like many others, I have a pretty diverse past: Eight years as an avionics engineer for Air New Zealand, followed by five years at Auckland University to gain a Marine Ecology MSc (Master of Science). I then spent over a decade with Auckland Council in an environmental monitoring and research role, which involved roaming the region’s great outdoors, often in very remote areas. I did plenty of boating (purchased a few vessels for the council too) and led a team of commercial (scientific) divers. Over time, the role became mind-bending, with more of a focus on the design, build and implementation of databases for council, and a few national biodata projects.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?

My days are really varied! I could be working on anything from Pacific Island risk assessments to offshore industry contingency plans, or responding to events both here and overseas. So far these have included the Fox Rover Landfill Response on the West Coast of the South Island, and shipping casualties in Fiji and the Solomon Islands. I’m currently working on an oil spill response intelligence capability project and a range of localised plans for our Regional Council partners, while also preparing to deliver workshops and training.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy the people, the variety of tasks, the challenges and stretching towards goals, the constant learning, and the honour of working in environmental protection.

What do you find most challenging?

A couple of things… firstly, navigating the legislation, which can be quite ‘fun’ (thanks to the Legal Services team for patiently answering my long list of questions). Secondly, overseas responses can be complex – I’m on a steep learning curve.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?

We’re all about environmental protection. I want to leave ‘a better NZ’ as our legacy. What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ? Being identified as a future On-Scene Commander – it will take a while to grow into the role, but it’s a huge compliment to be selected.

What’s your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?

Crikey – too hard to pin down! I’m very proud of my role as a dad, as a husband and I love all aspects of my life – it has been peppered with fun, interesting, and stimulating achievements. But I do wish I could have said “my career as an astronaut!”.

What are the values that drive you?

I have a long list, but the top 10 are: Adventure! Passion! Integrity. Commitment. Awareness. Sensitivity and kindness. Wonder! Improvement! Treading lightly.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I love the water! There’s nothing better than the whole family catching waves – our kids (Liv, 15 and Koby, 13) are tireless surfers and body-boarders. We mainly hit the East Coast North Island beaches – we’re not hard-core West Coasters! And I’m a pretty keen diver, too. Diving is so Zen.

Otherwise, my wife Jade and I are very into music – we go to lots of gigs, and love to discover new releases or artists. Our tastes are mainly rock, but we check out a pretty diverse range of styles. I also play in a 5-piece rock covers band – it’s such a fantastic outlet, and the guys are hilarious – it’s just end-to-end laughs!

Mark Scully

Principal Operational Policy Advisor – 40-Series Policy Lead, Regulatory Policy

Mark Scully

“This is real work that will make life better for people who have to work with the current rules,” Mark Scully says of the 40-series reform project he’s currently leading.

Mark sees lots of parallels between the maritime industry and the construction sector, where he spent a large part of his earlier career. “Even though the detail is quite different for ship design, construction and equipment, I’m able to use my building knowledge as a way to approach understanding it,” he says.

Mark talked to us about what his typical day entails and how he enjoys the challenge of coming up with solutions for difficult problems, which is hugely beneficial for his work on the 40-series reform project. He also explains the similarities between his background in construction and his current role.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?

I lead the policy development for the 40-series reform project. The 40-series rules deal with design, construction and equipment on ships. A typical day is spent interrogating the current 40-series rules, identifying the issues, and proposing and then testing possible solutions. The project is at the initial design stage – developing a draft framework. We’ve also asked the industry to talk about their problems and experiences with the rules so we can take these on board. Once we have something that looks like it might work, we’ll consult the sector – which should be later this year.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy the challenge of working on difficult problems and coming up with solutions. This is real work that will make life better for people who have to work with the current rules.

What do you find most challenging?

Reforming the 40-series rules presents a lot of challenges – over 600 pages, thousands of rules, 50 pages of definitions, multiple rule parts, duplication, repetition, inconsistencies, often unhelpfully prescriptive. Lots of amendments have been made over time without transition provisions, which means it’s quite difficult to know which standard applies to a particular ship. All of that needs to be sorted out.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?

Although it might seem strange, there are lots of parallels with the construction sector, where I’ve spent a large part of my career. The work is often quite tough and there’s always machinery involved – it’s technical work. Like the construction sector, maritime people are practical and focused on solutions. Exchanges are often pretty direct – you don’t get too much waffle. I’m very comfortable with that approach. There are regulatory parallels as well. Buildings are designed and constructed and have systems – e.g. fire safety appliances or means of access and egress. Even though the detail is quite different for ship design, construction and equipment, I’m able to use my building knowledge as a way to approach understanding it.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?

One of the things I’m proud of is the guideline called ‘Health and Safety: A Guide for Mariners’ which provides an overview of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. It was pulled together in a short time, looks great, and explains the Act in an accessible way.

Please tell us a bit about your background...

I started my career as a carpenter and ran my own business for some years. My wife supported me through university and I became a building inspector in my thirties. From there I moved into the Building Industry Authority, which became the Department of Building and Housing. My first job there involved auditing how well local authorities were issuing building consents and managing inspections, before establishing and then operating the Licensed Building Practitioner scheme. During this time, I took part in the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) programme and gained a Masters in Public Administration. I then moved on to WorkSafe before joining Maritime NZ in 2016. In my first role at Maritime NZ, I helped implement the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). I’ve been involved in a variety of work since then.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

At the risk of seeming corny, my biggest achievement is my relationship with my wife Craigie and raising two fine sons.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

My wife and I are walking the Hump Ridge Track in Southland at Easter. I did quite a bit of tramping when I was younger, but in later years we’ve tended to go on guided walks where you only carry a day pack. This will be 60km over three days carrying a pack, so we’re both a bit nervous. For the past few weekends we’ve been hiking with packs to train for the trip.

Sharyn Forsyth

Deputy Director – Communication and Stakeholder Engagement

Sharyn Forsyth

Sharyn Forsyth came on board as Maritime NZ’s first ever policy analyst in 1998. Twenty-one years and numerous roles later, she now leads our Communication and Stakeholder Engagement group.

Sharyn has always had “a passion for ensuring that industry voices are heard and valued within Maritime NZ”, and as a result, she’s built strong connections across the industry. Today she’s deeply committed to making a difference by working alongside the industry to achieve better ‘safe, secure and clean’ outcomes.

Sharyn talked to us about the path that led her to where she is today, and how she continues to find her work with the maritime industry both interesting and rewarding. She also mentions the achievements she’s enjoyed and challenges she’s faced along the way...

How long have you worked for Maritime NZ?

Twenty-one years! I joined as Maritime NZ’s first ever policy analyst, and I’ve changed roles every few years since then. After working in the policy area (which I ended up managing), I looked after internal audit, risk and government relations, then project managed the early stages of a review of safe ship management (which preceded MOSS), before taking up an operational management role. I was responsible for the maritime safety inspectorate, technical advisors and industry liaison team for a while, then the certification team, technical advice and operational policy. Now, and for the past year, I lead the group responsible for internal and external communication, stakeholder engagement, privacy and OIA requests, recreational boating and Maritime NZ’s contribution to the America’s Cup.

Please tell us a bit about your background...

I was born in Waiouru, as both of my parents were in the army. We moved around a lot, mostly in South East Asia, but settled in Wellington just before I started high school. School and I didn’t get on well, so instead of continuing to study, I worked as a registry clerk in a government department for a year. Unfortunately, the government department and I also didn’t get on (mainly because I was 17 years old and didn’t appreciate the importance of doing what my manager told me to do), so I moved to Christchurch to study political science and linguistics. After gaining my Master’s Degree, I worked as a researcher/policy advisor in the transport area, through which I met Russell Kilvington, Director of the Maritime Safety Authority. Russell suggested I come to Wellington to work for him… and here I am 21 years later (having added a husband and three children along the way)!

I’m often asked about how I can stay in one organisation for so long without being “institutionalised”. Because my role has changed so often I’ve always found the work interesting, and because I’ve been lucky to have managers who’ve supported me to try new things and work through any mistakes, I’ve been challenged sufficiently to not get bored. I’ve always had a passion for ensuring that industry voices are heard and valued within Maritime NZ, and as a result, I’ve not only built strong connections across our diverse industry, I’ve developed a deep commitment to making a difference by being part of a regulator that works alongside the industry to achieve better ‘safe, secure and clean’ outcomes.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?

A typical day starts with checking my emails, then spending most of my hours in discussions (meetings!) with various internal and external people. We either talk about specific issues, or just check in on what’s happening and what we need to focus on. I try to do a lot of listening, and to encourage people across the organisation to connect with each other. I also try to make sure I’m focusing on vision and direction, rather than telling people to do too much.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

It may be a cliché but I enjoy feeling like I’m making a difference to people in the work I do – either those within Maritime NZ, or those in the industry. I also like having a huge amount of freedom to do what I think is right to achieve our organisational outcomes.

What do you find most challenging?

The people! I sometimes find it challenging to remember I can’t fix everything immediately, and that it’s not all about me, it’s about how I can best play my part in the maritime industry. I also struggle when dealing with people who don’t appear to want to treat each other with respect, or to achieve to their potential. But I’ve learnt the hard way that I don’t have all the answers, and that I need to listen more than I talk.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?

A bit of a theme here – the people! I work across the whole of the maritime industry, and people are universally open, welcoming and focused on safety and environmental outcomes, as well as sustainable business (if they’re on the commercial side). I like the diversity and the honesty. You know where you stand with people in the maritime industry – they say it like it is. I’d far rather have that than pretense. Oh, and the ships are pretty cool too!

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?

My proudest moments have been seeing staff whose careers I’ve played a role in developing, progress and achieve, and the times I’ve heard that something I’ve done or said has made a difference to someone personally. I’m perhaps a bit different from a lot of senior managers in that I talk and write about fairly personal experiences. I do this to reassure staff that we’re all human – we worry, we’re anxious, and we fail and screw things up at times. I want everyone to know that this is normal and okay, and that what we do at work doesn’t define us as people.

In terms of work outputs, I was involved in setting up what’s now the NZ Safer Boating Forum, and FishSAFE. Both were partnerships across sectors that have led to unity of action and, I believe, improved safety outcomes.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I started an organisation supporting parents of transgender and gender diverse children in 2015, and now over 430 families throughout New Zealand are members. It’s entirely parent-led, although we partner with Rainbow Youth, InsideOUT, and the Human Rights Organisation to make sure parents and children get the support they need to live great lives. My biggest achievement is knowing that many families and children have had the lifeline they needed because of my simple decision to not let any other family feel as alone as we did.

What are the values that drive you?

It’s easy to list off a set of values, but I believe every person wants to do their best, and that my role is to ensure that they’re given the information, feedback and support they need to do so. I also believe people deserve to be treated with respect and everything that brings, even when they’ve done something that seems unexplainable.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I enjoy spending time with my children, I go swimming (in nice, warm indoor pools) and try to walk the hills of Wellington as much as I can. I listen to music, read, and do fine embroidery. I’m starting to get in to gardening (something my younger self would be horrified by!). I’m also always studying – at the moment I’m doing a Diploma in Human Development at Massey University.

Eva Maxwell

Business Operations Coordinator - Marine Pollution Response Service

Eva Maxwell

Eva Maxwell grew up surrounded by the sea in the “really special place” that is Great Barrier Island. So it’s fitting that Eva now dedicates herself to protecting New Zealand’s marine environment in her role as Business Operations Coordinator for our Marine Pollution Response Service.

Now in her fifteenth year at Maritime NZ, Eva particularly enjoys engaging with our National Response Team and Regional Council responders, and sees our relationships with these groups as crucial because “if we need to respond, we rely heavily on their support”.

Eva talked to us about everything from the projects she’s currently focusing on, to her ‘True North’ - the internal compass that helps guide her through life.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I start with yoga in the morning, before juggling my work based on current priorities. I’m involved in a few projects at the moment, including an Incident Notification project to improve the way we communicate internally when an incident occurs. I‘m also involved in a GIS project - reviewing and improving our field data collection apps and dashboards for incident responses.

I’m the coordinator for our National Response Team for Oil Spill Response, so at the same time, I’m always on the lookout for exceptional people to join our team.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I really enjoy the variety of work I get to be involved in. I’d say the engagement with our National Response Team and Regional Council responders is probably the most enjoyable - it’s really important for us to have good relationships with these groups; if we need to respond, we rely heavily on their support.

What do you find most challenging?
There seems to be a never-ending amount of work to do! It’s important that we’re constantly reviewing how we do things to make improvements and to keep up with evolving technologies. It’s been another really busy year, and I’m looking forward to some downtime this summer.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
Earlier in the year I presented to a couple of hundred attendees at a conference in New Orleans. I’ve never enjoyed speaking publicly, and I don’t know many people who do. However, I made sure I allowed enough time to plan my presentation, and managed to do a really good job. I think nerves are actually a good thing. Being nervous makes you work harder - and you feel great afterwards. I’m starting to think that maybe I’m just excited, and not nervous, before presenting.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
I recently completed the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Incident Controller Level 2 course. I haven’t had the opportunity to exercise or respond in the Incident Controller capacity before, so I wasn’t sure how I’d go. The course was excellent and provided us with lots of tools and techniques, and thankfully, the feedback I received from my assessors was really positive.

I learnt that the role is fundamentally about managing your team and encouraging them to be high performing, and meeting all the required outputs, while remaining calm and confident.

What are the values that drive you?
Many, many, years ago I attended a values-based leadership workshop, which included discussing the concept of finding your ‘True North’ - the internal compass that guides you successfully through life and helps you stay on track. After a couple of days of activities and talks, each person came up with one word to summarise their ‘True North’. My word was ‘fun’. It really resonated with me. I often think about that and how important it is that I’m having fun with whatever I’m doing, and if other values that are important to me - such as respect, enthusiasm and transparency - are in force, I feel like I’m living my ‘True North’.

I also believe it’s important to be completely engaged in whatever you’re doing and to take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way to continuously develop yourself.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I love the ocean and am completely drawn to it, so you’ll find me either fishing, surfing, swimming, walking the beach, or just looking at the ocean. I also enjoy travelling and exploring - there’s so much to see and do!

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I grew up on Great Barrier Island, which I feel was a huge privilege - it’s a really special place - before moving to the mainland to go to boarding school. My career began in Las Vegas where I was a Personal Assistant for a Gold Mining/Exploration company, a role which involved travelling to Europe, Canada and many places in the USA. I missed New Zealand too much though, so I came back, and enjoyed some office support roles before stepping into my current position at Maritime NZ in 2004.

Pelin Fantham

Deputy Director - Compliance Systems Delivery

Ginni Murray

Pelin Fantham is driven by a desire to make a difference and says she can see how her group “makes a difference to the maritime industry every day”.

After working for ship classification society, Det Norske Veritas (now DNVGL), in both London and Singapore, Pelin came on board eleven years ago, and now heads up our Compliance Systems Delivery group.

Among other things, we talked to Pelin about the joy and challenges of working for the industry, and learnt that she’s always prepared to put in the hard yards - in her spare time as well as at work...

What do you enjoy most about your role?
One of the key things that drives me is making a difference and I can see how the work my group undertakes makes a difference to the maritime industry every day. We fulfill the ‘why’ in Maritime NZ’s aim of keeping New Zealand’s seas ‘safe, secure and clean’.

What do you find most challenging?
Accidents or incidents can be challenging, especially if someone is seriously injured or killed. We play a really important role here. Not only does our work hold people to account, it helps bring a degree of closure for victims, whanau and family, it helps ensure that the same type of accidents don’t happen again, and sometimes it helps us understand how we can do things better ourselves. Accidents and incidents are also a good reminder about the importance of our work - they put a face to what we do - and our work to improve safety really does matter. When someone is liable it’s so important that we do the right thing and make quality decisions supported by our compliance operating model. As the decision maker, I don’t take that task or responsibility lightly!

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I don’t think there’s such a thing as typical day. The group I manage has a broad variety of compliance roles - auditing, certification functions and investigating as well as assisting people - so that keeps things varied and interesting.

One key piece of work my group is currently leading is ‘Health and Safety in Ports’, a collaborative project involving us, WorkSafe, industry and unions.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
The industry is complex and interesting. Also as an island nation, the industry is vitally important to us as a country.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
Honestly, there are so many I couldn’t define one particular moment. I’m proud seeing the fantastic work my group does on a daily basis and I’m very proud to lead a group of such dedicated individuals.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
I’d probably say it’s my running achievements. I went from not being able to run from one lamp post to the next (literally) to running marathons and a couple of ultra-marathons. It takes hard work, dedication and consistency to get there.

What are the values that drive you?
Integrity, equality and fairness are all pretty important to me. I think if you keep those in mind then you’re on the right track.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Well, apart from running (which I admit takes up quite a lot of my spare time), spending time with family and friends enjoying fine food (another reason to run!) and conversation.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I’ve worked in a variety of regulatory leadership, management and senior management roles across the organisation since coming on board 11 years ago. Before Maritime NZ, I worked for ship classification society, Det Norske Veritas (now DNVGL), originally out of its London office and then Singapore.

Kelly Garmonsway

Programme Manager, America’s Cup

Kelly Garmonsway

When she was a child, Kelly wanted to run away to join the French Foreign Legion. But being a girl and growing up in New Zealand, she had to make do with life on land - until 1997 when she signed up for the Royal New Zealand Naval Reserves.

Kelly spent the next ten years as a reservist, sometimes spending weeks at a time at sea. It was an experience that would set her on a path to Maritime NZ, where she’s currently Programme Manager for the America’s Cup.

We talked to Kelly about her extensive career - on land as well as at sea - and what a typical day looks like for the leader of the 36 th America’s Cup Project Team.

Please tell us a bit about your background…
I was raised in Karitane, a small fishing village north of Dunedin, and joined the Royal New Zealand Naval Reserve in 1997. I was cross-trained in two branches and served on a vessel on which the key roles were shared, so I worked as everything - an administrator, deckhand, medic, cook and a firefighter.

It was an interesting time to be a reservist. Our vessels were survey vessels - they were designed to survey routes in and out of harbours for mines (this was called ‘mine counter-measures’) but that wasn’t all they did. Reserve vessels served a variety of purposes. They were used in previous America’s Cups as on-water command centres and were also involved in the search for Ben Smart and Olivia Hope after the pair disappeared in the Marlborough Sounds.

An event that sticks in my memory was the recovery operation for the Southern Air Cessna that lost power and landed in the Foveaux Strait. HMNZS Moa found the plane and lay out the markers for recovering the aircraft.

More recently, I was part of the team responsible for implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendations on the Pike River Coal Mine tragedy. I then led a large scale, two-year multi-agency programme, to implement the Underground Mines Emergency Protocol, which was developed in response to one of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

My career with Maritime NZ began in early 2016 as a Senior Operational Policy Advisor.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
A typical day starts with an early wakeup call to take one of the most scenic commuter train trips in New Zealand - between my home in Masterton and the office in Wellington. At work, I’m currently focusing all my time on preparing for the 36th America’s Cup, which involves a significant amount of industry and cross-government discussion and project planning as well as policy development and implementation. I feel really privileged to be working with such a great team of passionate, enthusiastic and driven people.

At the end of the day, I relax on the long train journey home and wind down with my three wonderful children.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
The people involved in the maritime sector - both Maritime NZ staff and industry members - are authentic and passionate about what they do.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
It’s really hard to pinpoint a single proud moment, given every bit of work we do contributes to a much larger picture. But I was really pleased to have worked with the New Zealand Maritime Pilot’s Association - and to assist them to deliver their own industry guidelines that could be endorsed by Maritime NZ.

What are the values that drive you?
I find the words of well-known astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, go some way toward reflecting my own values:

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.”

What do you find most challenging about your role?
Nearly every core piece of work I’ve completed since starting at Maritime NZ has been challenging, but it has also been an opportunity to increase my skills. The key opportunities presented in these challenges usually enhance my life in three areas:

  • building better relationships
  • increasing technical competency
  • increasing self-awareness.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy the challenge of working to tight timeframes. I also really enjoy the high level of people management and engagement involved my role. Above all, it’s the people I work with internally and externally that make this a job I love doing.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
Personally, I think my biggest achievement is my three wonderful children. My oldest son is a talented actor, who has acted for, and alongside, some internationally renowned kiwi acting elites. My daughter is talented in mathematics, coding and the sciences, and is in every gifted class made available to her, and my youngest son is a very talented footballer who has recently received dispensation from Wellington Football to play up two grades in the premier grades. He’s also a fantastic all-rounder academically and a great little showman.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I really enjoy taking my children on outdoor adventures and exploring the world around me. I also love being at home. My primary source of stress relief is cooking, so I do a lot of technical cooking that requires intense concentration. It’s a form of active relaxing that helps my brain to rest.

Michelle Lough

Operations Advisor

Woman on wharf

Michelle Lough’s grandfather was a ship’s agent, and her dad went to sea aged 15 as ‘ship’s boy’, later following in his father’s footsteps. So it’s little wonder that, despite her “father’s protest”, Michelle found herself working in the industry.

Michelle has been putting her lifetime of industry experience to good use at Maritime NZ for nearly 10 years now, and currently belongs to our Policy Delivery Guidance and Support team.

We asked Michelle about her background in the maritime industry and discovered she was even married at sea! Michelle also shared her proudest moment at Maritime NZ, what her typical day entails, and what she likes most about working for the maritime sector.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I grew up in Nelson surrounded by the maritime industry. My grandfather was a ship’s agent and my father went to sea aged 15 as ‘ship’s boy’ (yes, that was an actual position), and went on to become a shipping agent. So I guess it was inevitable, despite my father’s protest, I’d end up working in the industry.

I started my career, nearly 30 years ago, as Shipping Officer for the NZ Kiwifruit Marketing Board (now Zespri). I then moved to Auckland and took on the role of Vessel Co-ordinator for the Nedlloyd business unit at Seabridge. When Seabridge announced it was closing its doors, I decided to run away to sea. Well, to clarify - I joined my partner Richard*, a Master Mariner, for the next 10 years as he worked onboard a variety of world-wide trading vessels. I earned my keep by doing the paperwork for each port and reporting for victualing (food provision), bond and crew wages. We were married onboard a Renaissance cruise ship off Cadiz where Richard was Staff Captain and I worked wherever there was need - escorting shore excursions, purser, spa receptionist and even filling in for the nurse.

Eventually Richard’s employers offered him a position at their head office in Cyprus to implement the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) Code. I became Crewing Superintendent for another ship management company and was managing the crewing department before we returned to New Zealand. I then started a contract with Maritime NZ, working in the Seafarer Licensing team and, as they say, the rest is history.

*Richard Lough has also worked for Maritime NZ for the past 10 years. He’s a Senior Technical Advisor in our Maritime Systems Assurance team.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I was part of the large team from across Maritime NZ that was responsible for implementing the new requirement for float-free EPIRBs on fishing vessels**. We knew that making EPIRBs compulsory had the potential to save lives and this gave the project a real sense of purpose. I’m really thankful that a float-free EPIRB was activated when a fishing vessel overturned off the coast of the Chatham Islands recently. The alert from the EPIRB was received by our Rescue Coordination Centre and helped save the lives of three fishermen.

What are the values that drive you?
My father - the shipping agent - instilled a really strong work ethic. You do what’s necessary to get the job done, you are loyal and you treat people fairly.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I’m an early starter - I try to do my serious reading first thing while it’s quiet. There’s a fair amount of research, reading and planning required in my role. I work closely with subject matter experts across Maritime NZ and within the industry, so meetings - whether formal or impromptu - are a daily occurrence.

My work programme currently includes drafting a position statement on stability requirements when towing, refining a checklist for auditing ‘recognised organisations’, and external consultation on a guideline for surveyors and operators.

What do you find most challenging about your role?
The variety of work and subject matter is both challenging and rewarding. I’m currently doing some work in the Design and Construction space. I really enjoy the research and getting into the detail. However, I find it quite challenging to get a good understanding of a technical subject I’m not familiar with.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
It’s the people. I’ve had some great opportunities working both within New Zealand and overseas. The thing that’s always resonated with me is the passion people have in the industry. Most of us rely on the sea or waterways as a source of income, a place to play or a means to transport goods and services. I believe there’s a real connection for those working in the marine environment.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I like pottering in the garden, fishing (when conditions are right), cooking for family and friends, and watching a good game of rugby while curled up on the couch.

** Float-free EPIRB distress beacons that can activate automatically became compulsory on commercial fishing vessels from 1 January 2019. This applies to those vessels between 7.5- 24 metres operating outside enclosed waters.

Jo Sweetman-King

Operational and Strategic Planner

Woman on boat

One of the many talented women in our crew, Jo Sweetman-King has spent half her life working for Maritime NZ (she won’t admit how many years that is!) and was recently seconded to the role of Operational and Strategic Planner for the Maritime Systems Assurance team.

We asked Jo about her role at Maritime NZ, including what her proudest moment is, what her typical day entails, and what she likes most about working for the maritime industry.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I’m really proud of the work I did to arrange the Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding meeting Maritime NZ hosted in Queenstown in 2014. The meeting is held in a different signatory country each year and involves delegates from all signatory countries. I’m pleased to say that with two years of planning the meeting went off without a hitch and all the delegates enjoyed visiting New Zealand.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
My biggest achievement is raising my two boys, who are now 12 years old and soon to be 15 years old. Some days they present their own challenges but they are my pride and joy.

What are the values that drive you?
I’m a firm believer of the three Maritime NZ values - respect, commitment and integrity - both personally and professionally.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I’ve just started a secondment to a role in my team that didn’t previously exist. At the moment, there are no typical days. I am busy preparing the Business Plan for the coming financial year and planning the work for our group.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy working with my team and across the organisation. No two days are ever the same at Maritime NZ and I love the variety.

What do you find most challenging?
To be honest, one of my biggest challenges can be wrangling everyone’s calendars to get them all in the same place at the same time!

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I find the industry quite fascinating. It’s such a vast industry - we can be working on an issue related to fishing vessels one day and a cruise ship the next.

Please tell us a bit about your background…
After leaving high school I completed an office administration course at Hutt Valley Polytech (now Weltec). I then put my skills to work in a variety of industries before joining what was then known as the Maritime Safety Authority.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I’ve recently retired from 20 years of playing indoor netball once a week, so I’m looking for something to fill the exercise void. Besides that, I like to cook and hang out with my family and friends.

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